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Few bidding to join exclusive set

"QUIETLY on the market". That's how the well-heeled residents of Shrewsbury Road have always preferred to put it whenever the distasteful matter of selling up arises in the course of conversation.

How would you put anything so vulgar as a price on living on Dublin's toniest of thoroughfares?

At the height of the boom, several of the country's highest-fliers certainly tried, with Derek Quinlan paying €27m for numbers 1 and 3 on the road, while another mystery buyer splashed out a record €58m and €5m in stamp duty to secure a grim, decaying mansion called Walford.

Now the boom has turned to bust there would appear to be tentative signs of movement on the Shrewsbury Road property market again.

This time however, there are few takers on the ground for the several properties now on sale, or understood to be open to offers from interested parties.

Walford is on the market again after two unsuccessful attempts by its mysterious owners -- Matsack Nominees -- to secure planning permission for its redevelopment.

Should the shadowy owners manage to sell the property in the current market, it is more than likely they would suffer losses of up to €45m on their investment

At the time of its sale in 2005, selling agents estimated Walford would secure in the region of €35m. With prices at the upper end of the residential market estimated to have fallen off by upwards of 50 per cent, the 4,000 sq ft mansion could only reasonably be expected to fetch between €17m and €18m now; a far cry from the total of €63m paid to secure it back in 2005.

Numbers 1 and 3 Shrewsbury Road are said, by informed sources, to be "available at the right price" given their owner Derek Quinlan's recent decision to relocate permanently to Switzerland for "tax and personal reasons".

The Sunday Independent understands officials from the Chinese Embassy recently viewed both properties, but found them to be unsuited to their requirements.

Elsewhere, Blacktie owner and Dragons' Den judge Niall O'Farrell has his home, Thorndene, on the market for €14m while he awaits a decision from An Bord Pleanala on his bid to build a new 10,600 sq ft house on a site at number 28, which originally formed part of a large property called Correen on the corner of Ailesbury Road.

Mr O'Farrell's plans for the prized plot, while approved by Dublin City Council, have ended up before the appeals board following an objection lodged two weeks ago by fellow Shrewsbury Road resident, chairman of Fyffes David McCann. In a colourfully worded submission, Mr McCann described how Shrewsbury Road had acquired "exalted status" by the middle of the 20th century when the makers of the Monopoly board game came to produce their Irish edition.

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Noting that "pride of place fell to Shrewsbury Road", Mr McCann says the accolade allowed the street to match the "exclusivity set by its English counterpart at Mayfair".

Directly across the road from Mr O'Farrell, embattled developer Paddy Kelly is understood to be very much open to offers for his home, Clonmore, having already offered to sell it privately two years ago.

The Sunday Independent understands the Laois-born builder was keen at the time to downsize with his wife to an apartment he owns near Herbert Park in Ballsbridge.

Fast forward to today, and with Mr Kelly's fortunes in business having taken something of a turn for the worse, the embattled developer's appetite to sell up is understood to have increased substantially.

Only last week, National Irish Bank (NIB) secured a judgment for €8.5m against one of Mr Kelly's companies, RQB Ltd. The bank sought the order against the developer and his partners in the business, Niall McFadden and Paul Pardy, over personal guarantees they had given on a €12m overdraft facility.

With total judgments of over €100m now against him, it remains to be seen whether Mr Kelly will move from Clonmore at a time of his own choosing, or at someone else's behest. Given his near legendary ability to come back from the brink however, Mr Kelly shouldn't be counted out just yet.

Back in the Nineties, the Redquartz chief famously outmanoeuvred the banks when they tried to take possession of his then family home, Clancool, and Clonmore, which he had built in its garden. After holding on to both properties for as long as possible, Mr Kelly agreed to sell them both at auction.

Having satisfied his bankers that he was putting his Shrewsbury Road homes on the block, Mr Kelly pitched the reserve price for Clancool at €1m, or nearly four times the price of the last house sold at auction.

Unsurprisingly, the property failed to sell, allowing Mr Kelly sufficient time to reorganise his finances, and keep his home on Dublin's most exclusive road.

Another house on the market is Woodside -- currently home to the headquarters of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.

With its asking price estimated to be in the region of €25m, the 10,000 sq ft property has -- not surprisingly -- been on the market since September of last year.

Elsewhere on Shrewsbury Road, multimillionaire Ardagh Glass chief Paul Coulson is still understood to be interested in offloading his home at number 4, having first placed Balholm on the market last year with an asking price of €27.5m.

Having failed to secure agreement to sell the house, Mr Coulson and his wife, Moya, are understood to be spending an increasing amount of their time in Paris and in Switzerland.

It is understood that the Coulsons are content to hold on to their Shrewsbury Road home until a satisfactory offer is received, and are said by friends to be under no pressure whatsoever to sell up.


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